22.04.2015 - Carmen Crommelin

Fashion People

La femme


Karl Lagerfeld advised Carine once, “Madame Roitfeld, you can do whatever you want as long as you do it first”. Advice, as it seems from an expansive career of ingenuity, Roitfeld has taken as gospel. One cannot tell if the notion of a crisp shirted, pencil-skirted, sensual-to-the-point-of-erotic Parisian existed before Carine, as she is both the definition of French fashion and its most illustrious image-maker.

Roitfeld’s already spanning career coercing fashion to new-found places, was made on bringing out obscurities in the genius, of working with big talents and then leading them astray. Carine herself commented that “My talent, maybe, is to push people in other directions, to discover themselves” a quality that didn’t just make Carine Roitfeld’s career, it also shot Mario Testino’s and Tom Ford’s into high demand. Starting out as a model, possibly an obvious path for a “very bourgeois” daughter of a perfect Parisian society mother and a renowned film producing father from Russia, developing later into a writer and stylist for French Elle, a position Carine held for 15 years.


A dynamic and irrevocable change to the landscape of fashion happened the day Roitfeld met Testino. It was on a shoot for French Elle with her new baby Julia in tow that she first worked with Testino. Mario reflects on his time with Carine with gleaming compliments, stating that Carine was an instrumental collaborator. A result of the synergy between Roitfeld, Testino and Ford was the reinvention of Gucci. The now infamous Gucci campaigns are exhibited in museums around the world. 

Carine became a fundamental connection between photographers and women, an advocate who brought a form of sensual accuracy to otherwise surrealist images. Carine explains this relationship with the photographer, “I tell them about women. Some things we do all the time that they don’t know about. You teach them that a woman, she plays with the ends of her hair. She bites her nails. She crosses her legs twenty times. I give them the trick of the woman. I show a bit of myself on the girl in the picture.”


The rest that followed was Roitfeld modi operandi- shocking, controversial, beautiful, but most importantly, always the first. The counterpart of Wintour, Roitfeld shaped her career as editor-in-chief at Paris Vogue by drawing inspiration from unlikely detail - wrong, right or otherwise - creating fantasies far differing from her personal life yet still an image for her own. A decade long rulership at Vogue was an education in grey-area obscenity, somehow-still-elegant eroticism and proof that the only person who could coin ‘porno-chic’ without being ridiculous was Carine. Now in control of her own magazine, CR, global editor of Bazaar, mother of two grown up kids Julia and Vladimir, 30 year partner of Christian Restoin, and recent and life changing role as grandmother of Julia’s daughter Romy, one might say she is in her blissful element. Roitfeld describes building a team within her own magazine, “I am very ‘family’, even in my work - to make a new one was the most important thing” a statement that reflects in her images and heart warming content, a new sentiment on the scene of fashion, a turn of tide in Carine’s more infamous style. 
In her own words, “We work seriously but don’t take ourselves seriously. This is important in fashion. It’s not all business, it’s a dream”. In a world commonly dominated by reserved ideals and self-important attitudes, fashion’s chicest hero is refreshingly, surprisingly against the grain. 

Short Facts


Khol smudged eyes, provocative lacing and binding- Typical French pieces, elegant compositions and shockingly daring ideas are all Carine classics.  Leather, fur and flesh are regulars for her shoots, as are feminine physiques.

Distinctive characteristics

Always treading a fine line between commercially receivable and artistically liberal, Roitfeld is one of the few to lead large corporations and luxury houses into murky water and still come out relatively clean and successfully talked about.


What would Carine Roitfeld like to reveal about Carine?  “The way I really live: Always wear flat shoes in summer. Slouchy sweatpants at home. A shot of vodka every night- even if I’m not going out“

Awards & Recognition

2008 Amfar’s ‘Award of Courage’
2014 Media award for ‘Fashion creative of the year’ awarded for CR book


1954 - A perfect beginning

Carine is born to a Russian film producing father and typically ‘French’ mother in the particularly affluent 16th arrondissement in Paris.

1980 - Motherhood

November 1980 marks the birth of Carine’s first child Julia, a son follows in December 1984 with the birth of Vladimir. Carine claims superstition prevents her changing to ‘married’ with partner and father of her children Christian Restoin.

1990 - Madness

Carine meets Testino whilst still under French Elle. The world barely knew what hit it.

2001 - Queen of the world

Carine is titled the unequalled Editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, she goes on to turn a relatively conservative brand on its head and into polarizing popularity.

2011 - In control

Carine publishes a personal retrospective of a life, motherhood included, within fashion. Titled ‘Irreverent’ the book is edited together with Vogue Hommes creative director Alex Wiederin and Purple’s Olivier Zahm.

Largerfeld and Roitfeld team up again for a photo exhibition and following book called ‘The Little Black Jacket’ a revisited look at Chanel’s most classic piece.

A new grandmother, Carine’s firstborn has a firstborn of her own, continuing a very fashionable legacy of women and inspiring the grandmother to look at the world with new eyes again, in warmer softer light.

2012 – The new style

CR Magazine is launched and its first issue is centered around the pregnancy and birth of her first granddaughter. The world is surprised all over again.


© Jason Lloyd-Evans, Imaxtree


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